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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

THE  NOVEL   OF   IMPRESSIONISM                  307

Rome, Naples - but the inner meaning shrinks: she is in the first
novel Diana achieving freedom, in the second Minerva ruling the
realm of ideal beauty in art, in the third Venus seizing }ay(Freibeits-
sucht, Kmstfieber, Uebeswuf) - but in reality as the novel shapes we
see her, in the first two novels empty and aching, and in the third
Venus vulgivaga and nothing more. Nietzsche's doctrine of Dion-
ysian joy is here like a cup drained to the dregs: a boy is loved to
death at Capri; there are violations and sadism; there is a bout of
Lesbian love by experts staged and watched like a boxing-match;
a robust English dame, Lady Olympia, moves through the tale,
coming from the ends of the earth and emerging at parties to
whisper, with a velvet voice, to some stranger or other: 'Heute
nachtsindSie mein Geliebter -... Meine Gondel wartet* But the trilogy
stands out in the history of literature both by reason of its extreme
tendency and of its style. It stands on the threshold of expression-
ism, first because it is the neplus ultra of Nietzschean Schrecklichkeit,
and therefore nearest to the inevitable reaction from ideals of
picturesque depravity dear to impressionism; and, secondly, be-
cause the style, so feverish that it rushes along in a succession of
pictures, has passed beyond the coldly gemmed and chiselled style
of impressionism, and is already TLauschkunst, the ecstatic style
which presents life (das rasende Leberi) in cinematographic flashes.
It is strange to find so anti-religious a writer as Heinrich Mann
among the Gottsucher> and no doubt Mutter Mark (1927) is rather
a dispassionate study of religious conversion than a confession of
personal belief in the efficacy of faith. Baroness Marie Hartmann
recognizes in the heir of a general the son whom, twenty-five years
before, when she was a servant girl, she had abandoned on the
rim of a street fountain. And - horror of horrors! (but somewhat
in the nature of the Ninon de FEnclos motif) - she finds that her
love for the boy is that of a woman for the male as well as that of
a mother. She seeks a refuge in religion, and makes a hectic con-
fession in the Hedwigskirche in Berlin. Eugenie oder die IMrgsrsyit
(1928), with its description of life in Liibeck in GeibeTs days, is a
side-piece to Thomas Mann's Baddenbrcoks - but at a great remove.
The historical novels Die Jugend des Konigs HmriQuatre (1938) and
Die Volhndung desKonigs Henri Quatre (1958) represent a declension
from the heights of literature to the level of Feuchtwanger and hot
genm omne. The first novel relates the king's career to his victory
at Arques in 15 89. There is a vivid picture of the Queen Mother,